Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton CAC"

Bridgehampton CAC Strikes an Environmental Chord with Planned Discussions on Local Issues

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The Bridgehampton CAC will host environmental discussions on local issues relevant to all of the East End such as water quality. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The Bridgehampton CAC will host environmental discussions on local issues relevant to all of the East End such as water quality. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee has invited the East End community to presentations and discussions on local environmental issues with a series of guest speakers, kicking off this Monday, September 22.

On Monday, Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chairman of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, will visit the CAC to discuss the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags. On Monday, October 27, Kevin McCallister, founder of defendh20.org, will discuss local surface waters and on Monday, November 25, Bob DeLucca, President of the Group for the East End, will discuss the historical evolution of groundwater protection, clearing restrictions and the effect on surface waters.

The Bridgehampton CAC will be inviting the CAC’s of Noyac and Water Mill to the meetings.

The CAC meets the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Bridgehampton National Bank’s Community Service Room in Bridgehampton.

Southampton Town Board To Add New Conditions to Special Exception Permits

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By Mara Certic

The Southampton Town Board is expected to add new standards, safeguards and conditions for retail businesses over 5,000 square feet that apply for special exception permits from the town Planning Board.

The news comes following highly controversial plans to build a 9,030-square-foot CVS pharmacy on the busy corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. On July 28 of this year, BNB Ventures IV and CVS Caremark applied for a special exception permit from the planning board to open the two-story pharmacy on the lot previously occupied by a small beer distributor.

The proposal has caused distress for members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and other residents, who have created an offshoot organization Save Bridgehampton Main Street, hired lawyers, done a traffic study and even held three protests and counting.

Those opposed not only fear that a CVS would negatively affect traffic on an already dangerous intersection, but worry that the pharmacy giant would detract from the rural charm of Bridgehampton’s village business district.

“We all know that one of our key assets is the character of our downtowns,” said Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins at a town board work session on Thursday, September 4.

He explained the prior town board adopted a special permit exception for uses in the village business district between 5,000 and 15,000 square feet but added, “the code does not provide for safeguards or conditions with that kind of special exception law.”

He explained special permit exceptions exist in the town code for certain land uses such as horse farms and marinas. “A lot of them are things that would be looked at through SEQRA,” or the State Environmental Quality Review Act, he said.

Although the general standards refer to things like traffic impacts, he said, the proposed new standards would require a traffic impact analysis as well. “Traffic is a key issue within all our business districts,” he said. Certain parking characteristics will be taken into account too, he added. The proposed 9,030-square-foot building, complete with basement and elevator, will have 10 parking spots for employees and clients, according to plans.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said the special standards also include taking a deeper look at the surrounding local retail community and also will require a local market analysis. These safeguards would be put in place in order to protect existing businesses in the village business districts.

The town board scheduled a public hearing about the proposed new standards for Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Scalera said on Tuesday if the public hearing does not attract a huge crowd, “we’d put it on for the next meeting for adoption.”  After that point she said it typically would take two or three weeks for the law to be formally adopted and put on the books.

CVS opponents have said the pharmacy’s attorneys seem to be looking for a swift and speedy approval process, but if adopted by the board soon, the new standards could realistically slow them down.

Bridgehampton CAC Briefed on CVS, Landmarks Law and Takes Aim at Leaf Blowers

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By Mara Certic

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee seemed somewhat encouraged by a Southampton Town Planning Board meeting when plans for the much maligned, proposed CVS pharmacy were discussed for the first time.

Peter Wilson, a member of the CAC who was at the planning board meeting on Thursday, August 14, discussed the proceedings with his fellow CAC members at their monthly meeting on Monday, August 25.  “Essentially, it was totally process-oriented,” he said. The meeting was delayed by a full hour, he said, but he got the impression that the board “wanted to see this through properly and give it their due course,” he said.

CVS Caremark and BNB Ventures IV are seeking a special exception permit to build a pharmacy on a vacant lot at the corner of Montauk Highway and the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike. The plan has angered Bridgehampton residents who believe that the pharmacy would cause a traffic nightmare at an already dangerous intersection. “We’re hoping the next decision will go our way. This is somewhat of a win for us,” said CAC co-chairwoman Nancy Walter-Yvertes.

The Bridgehampton CAC announced that members of Save Bridgehampton Main Street will hold another protest at the proposed CVS site this Saturday, August 30, at 10 a.m.

Sally Spanburgh, chairperson of the Southampton Town Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, was invited to speak to the CAC about legislation that was recently passed in Southampton that provides an incentive for owners of historic houses to preserve them.

The new law allows homeowners who allow their houses to be designated landmarks to add a guest house or carriage house to their property. In exchange the town would extinguish one of its development credits. Ms. Spanburgh showed pictures of each of the 46 properties in Bridgehampton that would be “technically eligible” to build new structures under the new law, but explained that even some of those would pictured would not necessarily meet all of the requirements.

In other action, the CAC unanimously passed a resolution on Monday asking the  town to ban gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer season.

Bridgehampton resident Steve Jones has become somewhat obsessed by the excessive noise that the landscaping equipment creates without appropriate regulation, he said. “The landscape convoys that stream into our town every morning have turned our residential areas into industrial zones,” Mr. Jones said.

The town’s noise ordinance was adopted in 1983 and has not been amended in the past 20 years. The code states that during the day, airborne noises should be limited to 65 decibels, with some exceptions—none of which are for leaf blowers.

Many gas powered leaf blowers create noise of up to 100 decibels, creating winds of 200 miles per hour. Mr. Jones invited two doctors, and residents of Huntington, to address the Bridgehampton CAC on some of the other side effects of the gas-powered leaf blowers.

Doctors Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager are members of Huntington CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leaf blower Moderation) who have been trying to restrict the use of the equipment in their town. According to Dr. Sager, 16 towns in Westchester County have restricted their use, the country Israel has banned them and the City of Toronto now hands out $5,000 fines to leaf blower operators.

Not only is the noise and air pollution harmful, but also according to the doctors, the leaf blowers throw up topsoil and nutrients, which results in the need for more fertilizers. Often, Dr. Sager said, lawns then become fertilizer-dependent, which, in turn, increases the nitrogen content in groundwater, potentially causing dangerous algal blooms.

The CAC members and the doctors discussed alternatives, mentioning electric and lithium-powered leaf blowers. Jeff Peters, who owns JCP Landscaping in Sag Harbor, uses gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer, he said. He has been using new, quieter leaf blowers in his business and added that a ban would result in higher bills for customers. A ban on leaf blowers would add 20 to 25 minutes of work per lawn, he estimated. Electric leaf blowers, he said, “have no power,” and require noisy generators themselves.

Mr. Jones said he had been in contact with Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender about introducing some sort of legislation that would ban the gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer. Mr. Bender could not be reached for comment by the time of this paper’s publication.

Planners Take a First Look at Bridgehampton CVS Proposal

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A plan to build a CVS pharmacy at this site in Bridgehampton, now before the Southampton Town Planning Board, has drawn opposition from residents because of traffic concerns. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Planning Board last Thursday, August 14, took its first look at a proposed plan to build a CVS pharmacy on a vacant parcel on Montauk Highway and the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The applicant, BNB Ventures IV and CVS Caremark, is seeking a special exception permit to allow it to use an already approved two-story, 9,030-square-foot building for a pharmacy. A special exception permit is required because the nearly quarter-acre corner lot is in a Village Business zone, where individual retail uses are limited to 5,000 square feet.

Since it was revealed late year that CVS was considering building a store at the site—at the busiest intersection in Bridgehampton—residents have rallied against the plan, arguing that a store there would create a traffic and parking nightmare.

At last week’s meeting, the planning board simply started the process by which it will be determined whether it or the Suffolk County Department of Health Services will be the “lead agency” during the processing of the application under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

According to Kyle Collins, Southampton Town’s planning and development administrator, the county health department has until September 14, to weigh in on the application, although it could respond sooner. Typically, the county cedes that authority to the town government.

Under SEQRA, applications are considered Type I, which presumes an environmental impact statement must be completed; Type II, for which an EIS cannot be required; and “unlisted,” which means the planning board will have the final say in determining whether an EIS should be required.

Mr. Collins, responding to questions by email, said the earliest a public hearing could be held on the application is October 10. However, if the board were to require an environmental impact statement, that time could be extended for several months.

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and other residents have been up in arms over the thought of a CVS being built at the corner since last winter.

A spin-off organization, Save Bridgehampton Main Street, was created largely to oppose the plan. It has hired an attorney commissioned a traffic study of the kind of impact a CVS would have.

In May, Bridgehampton residents converged on a town board meeting to demand that the board intervene to prevent the project from moving forward, but Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst told the crowd that the town board had no power to interfere with the planning board’s process.

Since that time, Bridgehampton residents have called on the town to negotiate with the property’s owner, BNB Ventures IV, to buy the parcel as a possible corner park.

And earlier this summer, residents holding signs and shouting slogans, gathered at the site for a pair of protests.

Lighted Crosswalk Proposed in Bridgehampton

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The existing crosswalk in front of the Hampton Library. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Southampton Town is looking to install warning lights at what many say is a dangerous crosswalk on Bridgehampton’s Main Street.

Christine Fetten, the town’s director of municipal works, and Tom Neely, its public transportation and safety director, sought out community opinions at Monday’s Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meting regarding the installation of the lights in front of the Hampton Library.

Library Director Kelly Harris approached Senator Kenneth P. LaValle for a grant for a lighted crosswalk system, they said, which the senator has secured.

The town had initially looked at in-ground lights, similar to those used on East Hampton Village’s Main Street, but it now has its eye set on Rapid Flashing Beacons. These solar-powered lights that flash to warn oncoming drivers when sensors detect a pedestrian, or when they are activated by pushing a button from the sidewalk.

There are some troubling visibility issues at the existing crosswalk, officials said. On the south side of the street, there is a very large linden tree that blocks visibility for eastbound motorists. Also, Ms. Fetten noted that the crossing is right next to the exit of a municipal parking lot.

According to Ms. Fetten, Bartlett Tree Experts examined the tree and determined that it was “not in very good condition.” CAC members unanimously agreed that they would be in favor of the removal of the tree if it were replaced with a more street-friendly tree.

They also said that they would support the installation of the rapid flashing beacons. Members of the CAC also suggested that Bridgehampton could benefit from more traffic cops during the summer who could help direct traffic.

Pharmacy Giant Files for Special Exemption Permit on Busy Bridgehampton Corner

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This week, CVS filed for a special exemption permit for a 9,500 square-foot store at a busy intersection on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

After months of grumbling, hand-wringing and even a pair of protest marches, Bridgehampton residents’ fears that CVS Pharmacy would try to shoehorn a store into the busiest corner in the hamlet took a step closer to being realized this week.

According to Kyle Collins, Southampton Town’s planning and development administrator, Bridgehampton BNB IV Ventures, the company that owns the property at the northwest corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, has applied for a special exception permit from the Southampton Town Planning Board to open a 9,500-square-foot store at the site.

“At 3:30 this afternoon I got an e-mail from Kyle Collins telling me that BNB IV Ventures has applied for the special exception before the planning board,” Nancy Walter Yvertes solemnly announced to members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday, July 28. Mr. Collins is the town’s planning and development administrator.

For months, the CAC, and a spin off group, Save Bridgehampton Main Street, has been fighting the proposed CVS through letter-writing campaigns, distributing petitions and even protesting.

Site plan approval has already been granted for a two-story building with 9,500 square feet of space at the site, but in the Village Business zoning district, businesses are limited to 5,000 square feet. Larger businesses are allowed only if a special exception permit is granted.

Members of the CAC and Save Bridgehampton Main Street have been writing letters to CVS executives for months but have not received any satisfactory response, they said.

“Now that the planning board has the file, we have the right to correspond with Dennis Finnerty and all of the people on the planning board,” Ms. Walter Yvertes told the other members of the CAC.  Mr. Finnerty is the board’s chairman.

Ms. Walter Yvertes also announced that Steven Schneider, an engineer conducting a traffic study for Save Bridgehampton Main Street, had agreed to analyze the turning movements at both driveways to the site. There is a driveway on Montauk Highway and one at the end of Lumber Lane at the turnpike. The analysis would add $1,800 to the cost of the traffic study, she said.

“Originally, I did not think it was necessary, but rethinking it, it very well could be. It may lead us, for example, to recommending restrictions on vehicles entering and exiting the driveways because of the traffic flow and the geometrics of the closeness of those driveways to the major intersection,” Mr. Schneider wrote in an e-mail to Ms. Walter Yvertes on Friday, July 25.

Ms. Walter Yvertes commented that it should really be the town conducting the study and that town officials should be “encouraged to do their jobs.”

CAC member Julie Burmeister also announced that a videographer had been chosen to film the busy intersection as part of the study. She explained that for some reason, the traffic is at its heaviest at that spot at around 10:30 a.m., and so they will be filming the flow of cars, trucks and bicycles at that hectic time of day in an effort to prove that the already dangerous corner will likely become unbearable if the CVS plan is approved.

Many of the members of the CAC also sit on Save Bridgehampton Main Street, which has hired attorney Vince Messina to fight the CVS application. The Islip-based lawyer was recommended to the organization by Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein, a resident of Bridgehampton.

When members asked why a local lawyer had not been chosen, CAC-member Peter Wilson responded, “I think she picked him because she’s had experience with him and feels that he’s a top performing litigator and he also has a pretty formidable reputation in Suffolk County.”

Ms. Water Yvertes added that when she told Jeff Murphree, the town’s former planning and development administrator, who has been helping his in-laws fight the CVS application, of their choice of lawyer “his eyes started twinkling and he said ‘Oh, he’s very strong.’”

CAC members s found several parts of the special exception use standards that they believe the proposed CVS would not be able to comply with. One provision states that there must be sufficient off-street parking and truck loading spaces for the anticipated number of employees, patrons and visitors and that “the layout of the spaces and driveways is convenient and conducive to safe operation.”

Jim Olson asked the assembled members of the CAC if they thought that their efforts would prevail; they replied that it would probably come down to the other lawyer, Wayne Bruyn.

They anticipated that he would try to time the hearing for the wintertime, when fewer Bridgehampton homeowners are in town to voice their opinions.

According to an email from Mr. Collins, of the town’s Department of Land Management, the absolute earliest date that a public hearing would take place would be on November 13.

Ms. Walter Yvertes said that she thought it was unlikely that it would qualify for a special exception permit “unless Wayne Bruyn’s a magician.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bruyn said that he was not involved with the application. He said it was not BNB IV Ventures, but CVS itself, which had filed the permit application. He said he does not represent the pharmacy company and has not prepared an application for it nor reviewed it at this time.

Mr. Messina was not available for comment by the time of this paper’s publication.

 

 

CVS Still Giving Bridgehampton CAC Agita

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee continues to shadow box with a plan—not yet filed—to build a CVS pharmacy at Bridgehampton’s busiest and most problematic intersection.

The proposal occupied the full attention of the CAC during a nearly two-hour-long meeting on Monday, at which Jefferson Murphree, the former director of land management for Southampton, presented an overview of the site that touched on its zoning and the rationale behind it as contained in the town’s comprehensive plan.

Mr. Murphree, who now holds a similar position with Riverhead Town, was at the meeting in a private capacity to represent his in-laws, who live on Lumber Lane, not far from the proposed development.

Members of the CAC and other concerned Bridgehampton residents descended on a Southampton Town Board meeting last month to demand that the board intervene to prevent the CVS from coming into Bridgehampton, but their pleas were deflected by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst who told them the Town Board had no jurisdiction over the matter and that they should take their concerns to the town planning board when, and if, it receives an application for the project.

But Mr. Murphree said the town board could be pulled into the fray, if the CAC is able to make the case that the development, and others similar to it, would cause onerous traffic and parking issues. If that were the case, he said, it could request a moratorium on commercial development in the hamlet.

Committee members agreed that that there simply isn’t enough room at the intersection for vehicles to get safely in and out of the site, pointing out that traffic is routinely backed up toward the turnpike and Lumber Lane.

Mr. Murphree urged committee members to continue to take their concerns to the town board. “You have to be on their radar,” he said, “because they are paying attention to the squeaky wheel.”

CAC members said it is just a matter of time before BNB Ventures, which owns the corner property, will officially apply for a special exception permit for the pharmacy. The company already has planning approval to build a two-story building measuring approximately  9,000 square feet, plus a complete basement with an elevator. The property would include a total of 10 parking spaces, including two for the handicapped, according to Mr. Murphree.

The committee supported the original building design for the site under the assumption that it was gong to be used for a number of small offices or stores with apartments on the second floor.

CAC co-chairwoman Nancy Walter Yvertes, who is also involved with a separate group, Save Bridgehampton Main Street, said the organization has already raised the $6,000 it needs to pay for a traffic study, which, she said, could be used to counter any study the developer submits.

“How can this be considered an independent traffic study?” asked Gay Lynch. “They’re all hired guns,” responded Ms. Walter Yvertes.

Long-time CAC member Fred Cammann suggested the committee should focus its attention on CVS, and not town government. “This is a commercial venture coming in here that is depending on the good will of the community to not go bankrupt,” he said. “Why in the name of God would you want to put a store in the middle of a community that doesn’t want you?”

“We have to be prepared to attack this,” added Dan Shedrick. “As Don King said, this is all about m-o-n-e-y.”

But Leonard Davenport, another CAC member said the group needed to keep its eye on the bigger picture. Even if it succeeds in convincing CVS that it should not come to Bridgehampton, a similar plan will rear its head sometime in the future, he said.

He urged the committee to keep the pressure on the planning board to oppose the project and concurrently encourage the town to make a good-faith effort to buy the property and develop it into a corner park.

Sagaponack and Bridgehampton Residents Criticize Proposed Changes to Bridge Lane Bridge

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By Tessa Raebeck

Some 30 residents of Sagaponack and Bridgehampton came to the Bridgehampton Community Center last Wednesday night to express their concerns over a project they say will change the face of their home — the rehabilitation of the bridge that gives Bridge Lane its name.

Alex Gregor, highway superintendent for Southampton Town, hosted a public forum on the bridge restoration project, a multi-faceted restoration to improve safety. The project, residents say, has unnecessary changes that, in addition to altering the character of the bridge, will pose greater risk to the pedestrians who use it for crabbing, fishing and swimming.

“That bridge is part of our rapidly vanishing hometown,” said Marilee Foster, a Sagaponack farmer who serves on the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Lisa Duryea Thayer, a Sagaponack Village trustee, called the project “very offensive to the character of our area.”

Built in 1923, the bridge is not new to controversy. When Suffolk County owned the bridge and attempted to demolish it and replace it with a modern steel structure in the 1980s, residents fought a five-year battle to keep it, culminating successfully in 1988.

“This whole battle,” recalled Donald Louchheim, mayor of Sagaponack Village, “was fought out for exactly the same reasons that you are giving today…now in effect, the town is reneging on the commitment that it made 25 years ago.”

Costing between $890,000 and $1 million, the project would widen the two traffic lanes, repave the roadway approaching the bridge on either side, replace the guardrails, put in drainage, replace the seawalls on either side and install leaching pools — pits that absorb liquid into the soil.

“Please believe me,” Gregor told the disgruntled crowd, “I don’t like to spend a million dollars on something unless we have to.”’

The travel lanes, currently at about 8.5 feet, need to be widened to today’s standard of 10 feet, Gregor said, which would leave no room for a sidewalk on the bridge.

“I grew up next to that bridge,” said Sagaponack resident and former mayor Bill Tillotsen. “I’ve swum off of it, I’ve jumped off of it, I’ve fished off it … the sidewalk there is inadequate but without it you’re going to create a real funnel for traffic.”

Town officials began looking into funding for this project back 2005, before Gregor was in office. In 2006, an average of about 1,200 vehicles crossed over the bridge each day, according to the town.

By the time Gregor took office in 2010, he said, the town had already bonded close to half a million dollars for the rehabilitation project.

A federal grant for $500,000 was “one of the last Congressional earmarks that [Congressman] Tim Bishop got out in 2008,” Gregor said.

By accepting the federal aid, the town is required to keep the project consistent with federal and state regulations, which mandate many of the project’s elements which residents are highly critical, such as the widened lanes and new guardrails.

Cathy Gandel, co-chair of the Bridgehampton CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee), told Gregor, “you keep talking about safety — which we all want — but what makes you think that two 10-foot lanes with that guardrail [would improve safety]? People slow down now over that bridge because it’s narrow.”

“Tell the mayor and the trustees to get the cop there and write some tickets on the bridge,” Gregor responded.

Following the forum, Gandel’s husband, Earl Gandel, recalled a time in the late 1940s when international road races were held in Bridgehampton, with racers crossing over the bridge.

“We’re getting ready to change the nature of a bridge that I think a lot of people are really attached to,” Foster said. “I just feel really kicked in the face by this project because people love this place, people love the bridge.”

“I don’t think,” replied Gregor, “a 1923 bridge makes it historic, but I’m not going to insult historians in that.”

Several residents, along with Sagaponack Village’s consulting engineer Drew Brennan, asked Gregor to consider an alternative option that would make the basic repairs to the bridge without taking the federal grants that mandate the most aesthetically altering — and controversial —components of the project.

Brennan estimated that option would cost the town up to $700,000 and those in attendance asked Gregor to commit to looking into it.

“Our boards every month,” said Louchheim, “are struggling mightily to preserve as much as possible the rural and historic and scenic character of the Town of Southampton and quite frankly, the bridge is a vital part of that.”

Gregor said he and his team would consider the residents’ input and “regroup.”

“But,” he said, “I would be wrong in telling you I’m not still leaning forward.”

Linda Franke asked whether the public forum was just hosted as a gesture.

“It’s a condition and a gesture,” Gregor replied.

Southampton Town Trustees Explores the Balance of Beach Protection & Public Access

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By Tessa Raebeck

A home sold in the 1960s due to the owner’s belief in its inevitable demise at the hands of Mother Nature is still standing today — but the expansive beaches that once surrounded it have disappeared entirely.

The Southampton home, which belonged to the family of lifetime resident and Southampton Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer, now juts out to the sea on a shaky promontory. Barricades built by neighbors to protect their own homes have preserved the structure, while the beaches that once made it a desirable home have been destroyed.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy last October, year round residents and local officials are questioning the legality — as well as the ethics — of sacrificing public beaches in order to preserve private properties. At the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting Monday night, Havemeyer addressed attendants on the duty of the Southampton Town Trustees to protect the community beaches. He stressed the importance of beach preservation for both recreational and economic reasons, as well as the ongoing threat to public beaches posed by bulkheads or man-made barricades.

“It’s been going on for centuries, it’s not a new thing,” Havemeyer said of coastal erosion.

The trustees, who are responsible for safeguarding the marine community and protecting public access rights, maintain that construction of such bulkheads severely hastens the erosion process. Oceanfront homes, belonging predominantly to wealthy, seasonal residents, are temporarily preserved while local beaches are obliterated.

Havemeyer put it simply, “You put in bulkheads, you lose beaches.”

“I think it is important to remember that there is a population on the East End that lives and votes here year round,” CAC member and former chairman Fred Cammann wrote in a letter to the committee. “We respect the power of storms and we know not to challenge the forces of nature with artificial Band-Aids because our experience has shown this to be folly. Multiple generations know that one may live with, but never try to control, our ever changing environment.”

Following the coastal destruction from Superstorm Sandy, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a permit allowing homeowners to restore sections of existing bulkheads and hard structures on the beach which were damaged to a height no greater than 18 inches above the original structure.

The trustees, along with members of the CAC, claim that many homeowners violated the spirit of the permit by rebuilding the structures altogether rather than restoring the damaged areas as authorized. Allegedly, many homeowners used unstable wooden fences in the dunes, which lie above the buried bulkheads, as a benchmark for reconstruction rather than the bulkheads themselves.

The resulting bulkheads are therefore higher and more extensive than the DEC regulations permit. One example in Bridgehampton, according to CAC vice chair Jeffrey Mansfield, was a wooden bulkhead that extended one foot above the sand being removed and replaced by a steel bulkhead protruding five feet above sand level.

Many states with coastal communities, including Washington, Texas and the Carolinas, have enacted laws to limit or prohibit the construction of bulkheads due to perceived negative environmental effects. Havemeyer, who has been monitoring the bays and beaches of Southampton daily for the past 11 years, claims that in order to combat erosion resulting from bulkheads, massive beach replenishment projects are necessary.

He warned the CAC, “We are harnessing everybody into a situation that once this is put in, we will have to replenish [the beaches] forever.”

The trustee maintains that these projects could be required as often as biannually, at an immense and ever increasing cost to taxpayers.

Opponents of individual barricades reference an even more drastic cost to local residents; the loss of public beaches which would command the loss of the central component of the East End’s vibrant tourism industry and thus severely damage the area’s economic vitality.

“We’re really defining a moment where we could lose the most important aspect that we have, which is the Atlantic beaches,” said Havemeyer.

The Southampton Town Trustees, with the support of the Bridgehampton CAC, believe these homeowners will inevitably discover that, unlike oceanfront homes and steel barricades, Mother Nature cannot be bought. They are hopeful that legal regulations will aid in their campaign to preserve public beaches, but worry that many oceanfront homeowners have such substantial wealth that they consider themselves to be above the law.

“During the next 20, 30 years while we’re waiting for Mother Nature to show the hedge funds who’s boss, we — the year round residents — will be suffering,” Mansfield said in Monday’s meeting.

Citing the area around an existing bulkhead from the early 1980s, he said, “No matter if you’re a beachcomber, a dog walker, a fisherman, or a surfer, you can’t get to the beach.”

Trustees Seek Support to Continue Battle for Access Rights

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In the wake of a court decision last month which Southampton Town Trustees believe endangers their ability to regulate beaches, and therefore protect access, on Monday night they sought the support of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

With members of the East Hampton-based not-for-profit Citizens for Access Rights (CfAR) in attendance, the trustees implored the CAC to put political pressure on town and state officials to ensure over three centuries of legal precedence is not eroded and shorelines are protected from being bulkheaded into oblivion.

CAC co-chairman Stephen Steinberg made it clear from the outset the trustees had come to the committee for support.

“An erosion of this kind of power with a lack of support from the town board will hurt us in terms of trying to protect the natural beauty we have,” said Steinberg. “This is a town built on its beaches. Without our beaches, we might as well be Arizona.”

In the May 9 decision, State Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Mayer ruled that the town trustee’s power does not give them control over beach landward of the high tide mark. The decision was a judgment in favor of Quogue Village and two homeowners who buried fabric tubes filled with sand under dunes to prevent erosion of the beach.

Justice Mayer plainly states in the decision that while the trustees have the right to retain title to underwater lands and can control what structures are built on those lands, it does not have control of the shores or beaches on the South Fork.

As Southampton Town Trustees President Eric Schultz explained on Monday night, the trustees do hold title over the town’s underwater lands, but also have had an easement over the shorelines and beaches of Southampton’s oceans and bays. The reason that jurisdiction — which has been upheld in three separate court cases — is important, said Schultz, is because it protects residents access to the beaches and prevents waterfront property owners from erecting structures on the beach to essentially privatize them.

The concern with shoreline hardening structures, said Schultz, including bulkheads, the sand filled tubes used in Quogue known as Geotubes or rock revetments, is the trustees believe when they are erected on a beach other sections of the beachfront erode at a faster pace, which could ultimately harm public access.

“It’s drawing a line in the sand,” said Schultz. “It’s not allowing the beach to move northward. Once you establish a hard, fast line that beach will diminish.”

However, the trustees’ hard line stance against shoreline hardening has drawn several lawsuits in the last decade, mainly from property owners stating they are simply trying to protect their land from literally being eroded away.

Schultz said the trustees have the funding to appeal the Mayer decision, which they intend to do, but that the trustees want to mobilize the community.

“Our trouble right now is we need the community to start getting behind the trustees and asking the state assembly, the town board what we are doing to protect the trustees,” said Schultz.

He said that community support could come in the way of residents calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation that supports the trustee’s regulatory rights over the beaches or to call on town officials to support the trustees more, financially and otherwise.

“I am very concerned because I was told by a town official that this issue wasn’t about access, it was about erosion and I couldn’t disagree more,” said CAC member Jeff Mansfield.

Noting that if someone builds a home on the crest of a dune they should expect erosion will likely become an issue, Schultz said he would like to see the State of New York adopt laws that places the burden on those homeowners rather than expect the public to forgo their right to the beach.

“We are looking for your support politically,” said trustee Fred Havemeyer. “We need you to lobby, for you to realize these five guys have their fingers in the dike. If we take them out we are gone – that means you. We can survive financially, but what we need is a support base within the town.”

CfAR vice president David Lys said his group supports the trustees of both East Hampton and Southampton and that it is critical, particularly in election years, to make this a very public discussion.

“We recognize if there is a loss of rights in East Hampton or Southampton it has a regional affect,” said Lys.